The hang-up left us, for the third time, checking back into the Best Western where the desk clerk is a 4-Wheel & Off-Road reader who laughed all the way with us. Seems we made a pretty big scene in town, 'cuz the guy at the Jiffy Lube the next morning eyed our choice Ford, then our ODs, and said, "Hey, aren't you the ones who were driving that little Jeep around yesterday?" That's us. Ricky Hopkins heard the tale of our plight and kindly offered to loan us his magnetic tow lights, saving us a few hours of wiring the Jeep behind the also-borrowed towbar. Four-wheelers are good people.
A new challenge presented itself: It was now the Tuesday afternoon before Thanksgiving. We'd spent a year in Utah that week, and now we had to find a way to turn the trip into an adventure while getting home in just a day and a half. Sure, 900 miles in an untried $500 Ford latched to a fragged flatfender seems risky enough, but that's just regular stuff. Pw and I have many rules of the road, and chief among 'em is Dirt Every Day. That's why these things are called D.E.D. Tours, and they've taken us to the reaches of the continent in sundry high-character 4x4s. The F-100 hardly counted as such, but that wasn't going to stop us.
After a gruesome delay in the concrete-jungle outskirts of Salt Lake we were on to the Bonneville Salt Flats, then to the remnants of the Wendover airfield where the WWII crews of the Enola Gay and the Bockscar trained for the atomic missions over Japan. Then it was flatfoot into the Nevada desert, seeking the odd dirt roads and navigating by D.E.D. reckoning to California's old Route 66 and then the abandoned Kelso Depot that served Kaiser Steel during the war.
By the time we hit home, we figured we'd nearly died only four or five times, not counting nearly getting run over by the truck and Jeep (seems the truck's 302 has little to offer in compression-braking holding power on a hill) after the front wheel fell off the Jeep while pulling into Pw's driveway. This thing knows when to break, because, like a good Jeep, it did what was important: got us home in time, in one piece, and ready to live the dream another day. Sure, the trip cost something like $3,600 all told, and we could have had a full-on Hawaiian vacation for the same price. But who'd want to do that when you can have this kind of fun and two vehicles left over to prove it?